TENANT PROTECTION ACT
Need For Change

The Tenant Union has thus far been focused on helping individual tenants with their individual issues. In order to protect tenant rights not only for the current tenants, but for the people that come after us, we need to make changes to the law. Tenant law is controlled on a local level, which means it only takes 3 votes for the Tenant Protection Act to become law in New Paltz. Read below for what the law will say, and head over to Take Action to learn how to make it happen.

Tenant Protection Act

No rental lease may be entered into or enforced in the Village of New Paltz unless it abides by the following:

A. A tenant must be released from their lease contract without penalty if they find a replacement tenant. The replacement tenant must only fulfill the obligations of the existing contract.

B. If a tenant does not replace themselves in their lease, they can still be released from their lease contract without penalty, if they give one month notice, in the following excusable circumstances:

      1) Death of immediate family member. This includes sibling, parent, or child.
      2) Letter from doctor (physician, physician’s assistant, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist) stating that the tenant has a medical condition, illness, or issue which necessitates moving their residence as part of the treatment plan. This can be a physical or mental condition, illness, or issue (including but not limited to allergies, anxiety, depression). The letter is not required to state the nature of the condition, illness, or issue for privacy concerns.
      3) The tenant, or a person who significantly contributes to rental payments (including but not limited to parent, co-tenant, spouse, significant other, family member), has suffered a loss of employment.

C. If the tenant does not have an excusable circumstance, or replacement, they can still be released from their lease if a co-tenant is released due to an excusable circumstance.

D. If the tenant cannot find a replacement, does not have an excusable circumstance, and their co-tenant does not have an excusable circumstance, the tenant can still be released from the contract provided that they give one month notice and pay a penalty fee of no more than two weeks rent.

E. The lease agreement cannot require any amounts of money to be paid upfront or in advance except for a security deposit.

F. A security deposit shall be limited to two hundred dollars per leaseholder.

G. A security deposit may only be used towards repairs to a housing unit, caused by tenant action, above usual occupancy wear and tear.

H. Any security deposit amount not used must be returned to the tenant within two weeks of end of tenancy or it will be deemed withheld.

I. If any amount of a security deposit is determined to have been wrongly withheld, a landlord must pay a tenant a penalty of $1,000 or treble damages, whichever is greater.

J. A lease agreement must guarantee that the property Heating and Plumbing systems be in good repair.
      (i) A tenant will not be liable for rent for the days that their Heating or Plumbing systems were not in good, working repair.
      (ii) A tenant must notify a landlord in writing, text, or email of the problem and their withholding of rent in order to avail themselves of the right to withhold rent provided in (i) of this section.

K. If a landlord has made written or oral representations that they will provide a service or advantage, including but not limited to (Snow removal, parking, cable, internet, or repair), they must provide the promised services.
      (i) A tenant will not be liable for rent for the days that the services were not provided, or not in good working condition. This does not include area service outages.
      (ii) A tenant must notify a landlord in writing, text, or email of the problem and their withholding of rent in order to avail themselves of the right to withhold rent provided in (i) of this section.

M. A lease agreement must guarantee the tenant be given three days notice before the landlord or their employee or contractor enters the property. This right is waivable by the tenant at any time.

N. A lease must provide that a landlord may only enter the property between the hours of 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM Monday – Friday. The reasons for entry must be one of the following: Emergency, necessary or agreed repairs, alterations, exhibit property to potential tenants or buyers. This right is waivable by the tenant at any time.

O. A tenant cannot be made to pay Attorney’s Fees to a landlord.

P. Any lease agreement entered into in the village must be provided to the village clerk by the landlord within one week of being signed. This information must then be made available to the public upon request.

Q. Any previously entered lease in violation of this chapter can be converted into a conforming lease by request of the tenant. If the tenant has paid an amount above the limit for security deposit listed in this section, the amount paid must be returned to the tenant within one week of being notified that the tenant wishes to convert the lease to a conforming lease under this section.

Section 130-4 Penalties.

A. Any landlord who violates any of the following provisions of this chapter shall be liable to the tenant effected for $1,000: M, N, P, Q.

B. If the tenant is given a favorable judgment at a court proceeding regarding the enforcement of any of the provisions of this section, the landlord will be liable to the tenant for Attorney’s fees and Court Costs.